PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande threatened legal action yesterday over a magazine report saying he is having a secret affair with an actress, the latest breach in the French media’s practice of turning a blind eye to presidential love affairs.
Rumors have long circulated that the 59-year-old Hollande might have a lover. The magazine Closer published images Friday showing a bodyguard and a helmeted man it says is Hollande visiting the apartment of Julie Gayet, 41, a moderately known French actress who appeared in a clip for his 2012 presidential campaign.
French media faces strict privacy laws, as well as a longtime tradition of ignoring the private lives of public figures. Former President Francois Mitterrand had a daughter with his lover that the French media knew about but never revealed, until the president himself appeared publicly with his daughter coming out of a restaurant.
But the publication marked the latest incursion into the once-sacred private lives of French politicians. The tradition of keeping private lives private has been chipped away since Hollande’s predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy divorced his wife Cecilia, who was having an affair, and remarried model and singer Carla Bruni.
Bloggers, tweeters and other online sources have tapped into public curiosity and pushed the borders of French privacy. Closer last made a splash when it published topless photos of British Prince William’s wife, Kate.
Hollande said in a statement he “deeply deplores the attacks on respect for privacy, to which each citizen has a right.” He is weighing possible action, including via the courts, it said. He did not address the alleged affair.
Hollande, who was dubbed “Monsieur Normal” by French media, has never married. He had four children with politician Segolene Royal, 60, and has been living in recent years with his partner, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, 48, considered France’s first lady.